bern, as you would expect, is very tidy and not without charm. it is also very uniform in its appearance. in fact the entire old town is built with the same coloured sandstone as a result of a fire back in the 1400’s when the town burned down. in fact every building in the olde town is in the same condition it was some 500 years ago!
after checking in to our quite nice hotel, we head off to use up what little light remains in the day. it is very cold and starts to rain lightly shortly after we set out. this is not a problem in bern however as i suspect they get either a lot of snow or rain or both, because they have built some 14 kilometres of covered walkways down both sides of every street in the old town. i take as many pictures as i can before the light goes. there are quaint fountains and statues in the middle of the streets, or affixed to buildings.
it really is quite storybook in appearance as we work our way down hill towards the river the buildings look progressively more “swiss like” with a jumble of roofs, hundreds of chimneys, the odd one puffing smoke. at the bottom of the hill we discover an old church, open but without lights. what a contrast to the ornate ones we’ve seen elsewhere; it is void of decoration except for an old choir from the 1500’s and 3 stained glass windows. by now we’re a bit chilled and stop in for a hot chocolate and a piece of apple cake mmmmm… good.
as we wend our way back up the hill we pass a glittering display of remarkably modern design in the old stores, whether furniture, fashion or jewelery. we also see a couple of workshops where craftspeople are still at work. of all the cities we’ve been to the quality of items here seem to be the best. we did pick up a couple of souvenirs… chocolates… expensive chocolates! i couldn’t afford a watch 🙂
i’m still searching for blair’s gift and we check out a few clothing stores… this is not rick’s favourite past-time and soon he abandons me for the warmth of the hotel. i have no luck and head back to join him before going out to dinner.
we had seen several restaurants on our walk and decided to head back to one that appeared particularly charming. unfortunately, smoking is still very much accepted in switzerland and i’d had enough of smoke filled atmosphere at a restaurant in saltzburg so we passed on our first choice. we end up at the ratzkeller restaurant on one of the main streets and have a wonderfully authentic swiss meal, including swiss wine and strudel to die for. we paid for this indulgence! it was the most expensive meal of our trip (but worth it.) as we ate, it began to snow, you can imagine our delight as it was a perfect mountain experience in a 15th century setting.
we walked home in the light snow for a good night’s sleep in our feather beds.
our hotel looked over the central square which includes the station, clock towers, old building and a futuristic glass canopy that covers a great portion of the square. it was great to wake in the morning to see everything covered in a light blanket of snow.
bern was a nice place to end our trip. tomorrow paris, before flying home.
guten nacht, buona notte, bonsoir (it’s a trilingual country:) see Bern on my flickr slideshow